Fitness Guru Jennifer Cohen’s Tips for Achieving a Fierce Figure
Jennifer Cohen may be a spokesperson for Weight Watchers and trainer for The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, but she wants to make one thing clear: no woman should hate her own body. Cohen recently finished writing a new book with Stacey Colino entitled Strong Is the New Skinny, in which she argues that strength is more important than stick-thinness.
“I wanted to give people the tools,” Cohen says about her motive for writing the book. “The diet, the workout, and the mental aspect … is really half the battle.” She’s encouraged by a recent cultural shift toward celebrating women who are powerful and athletic. “You’re watching Mission: Impossible and you’re seeing Paula Patton kick a--, or you’re seeing Maggie Q, and they look strong, tough, and fierce … I think in the past, women felt like that was unattainable.”
Cohen believes that every woman can achieve a fierce physique through a realistic diet and an approachable workout routine. “Everything I write in my book for getting lean and mean, you can do in the comfort of your home,” she explains. Still, since starting a new fitness plan can be daunting, Cohen has shared with us seven tips to help you get moving and stay motivated.
1. Set Mini Goals
“When you have something you’re working toward and you see yourself actually accomplishing it, it’s the best motivation to keep on progressing,” Cohen says. She recommends that you focus on your ultimate goal and then divide it into mini goals to ensure that you can measure progress every day.
2. Start Small
Taking the first step is often the hardest for people who don’t normally work out, but Cohen stresses that you don’t have to be an Olympic-level athlete to be healthy and fit. “Start out by doing a 10-minute workout,” she advises. “Everyone can find 10 minutes,” even if all you’re doing is a few quick circuits in the living room.
3. Use Food as Fuel
“It’s not about eating less at all, it’s actually—a lot of times—about eating more,” Cohen says. “[When] people limit their calories and their body goes into starvation mode, they end up holding onto every calorie they eat.” Instead, Cohen recommends eating healthy fats, carbohydrates that are high in fiber, and protein with every meal, “because protein is harder to break down, which makes you burn calories as you’re digesting.” Aim for omega- and protein-rich foods such as greek yogurt, kefir, chia seeds, nuts, legumes, and wild salmon.
4. Keep a Food Diary
Visually tracking what you eat is the best way to hold yourself accountable. “A lot of times, people think they’re doing the right things, then they’ll start writing out everything they’re eating and say, ‘Oh my God, I actually ate 1,000 more calories than I thought.’” Fortunately, there are several apps that make it easy to log your calorie intake.
5. Don’t Follow Trends, Follow Passions
“I always say, ‘Find something that you like and try to get really good at it.’” This may mean taking every type of fitness class or trying every workout video, but Cohen says that’s okay as long as you eventually discover what’s fun for you. “People always ask me, ‘What’s the best workout to do?’ and my answer is, ‘Whatever you’re going to ultimately end up doing.’ Because whatever the trend is, if you don’t like it, it doesn’t matter. You’re not going to stick with it.”
6. Schedule Exercise Like You Would Any Other Appointment
Cohen suggests prioritizing exercise the way you might a doctor’s appointment or a visit to the dentist. The idea is to train yourself to think of exercise as something that’s just as important as your other daily tasks. “What really works is consistency, being cognisant of what you put in your mouth, and tracking what you’re doing.”
7. Don’t Stop Snacking
“Having [the right snacks] accessible to you helps you make better choices.” Good snacks include treats made from whole foods, such as nuts. The most important thing, Cohen warns, is to not starve yourself. “When you starve yourself, you’re going to lose weight,” she admits, “but it’s not real weight. You’re typically losing muscle because your body starts to eat at your lean muscle mass. The reality is that the more lean muscle mass you have on your body, the more calories you burn throughout the day and the more fat you end up losing.”
Courtney Ryan is a Chicago-based writer and Derrick Rose fan. She spends almost 100% of her time making or eating popcorn.